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Taqiyya (تقية alternative spellings taqiyeh, taqiya, taqiyah, tuqyah) is a form of religious dissimulation,[1] or a legal dispensation whereby a believing individual can deny his Islamic faith or commit otherwise illegal or blasphemous acts while they are at risk of significant persecution.[2] It is based on Qur'anic verses that instruct Muslims not to "take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers... except by way of precaution,"[3] and to not utter unbelief "except [while] under compulsion".[4]

This practice is emphasized in Shi'ite Islam whereby adherents may conceal their religion when they are under threat, persecution, or compulsion.[5] Taqiyya, as it is known today, was developed to protect Shi'ites who were usually in the minority and under pressure from the Sunni majority. In the Shi'ite view, taqiyya is lawful in situations where there is overwhelming danger of loss of life or property and where no danger to religion would occur thereby.[1]

The term taqiyya is generally not used among Sunnis. However, it has been discussed in a positive and clear manner by several Sunni scholars such as Ibn Kathir[6] and Al-Suyuti,[7] and the actual concept itself does exist within Sunni jurisprudence (Fiqh).[8][9] There are also a few historically documented cases of Sunnis practicing taqiyya where it was necessary. For example, in the inquisition miḥna during the Caliphate of al-Ma’mun, a number of Sunni scholars used taqiyya, attesting to the Qur’an as having been created despite believing the opposite.[10]

Critics of Islam are often ridiculed because they tend to conflate the doctrine of taqiyya with that of lying in general, leading to the mislabelling of all forms of religious lying as an example of "taqiyya". However, taqiyya forms only a single aspect of lying within Islam, not the entirety of the subject itself.

See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Momen, Moojan, "An Introduction to Shi'i Islam", Yale University Press, pp. 39, 183, ISBN 978-0-300-03531-5, 1985. 
  2. Stewart, Devin, "Islam in Spain after the Reconquista", Teaching Materials, The Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at New York University, http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/program/neareast/test/andalusia/2_p8_text.html. 
  3. "Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them..." - Qur'an 3:28
  4. "Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief,- except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith - but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah..." - Qur'an 16:106
  5. "Taqiyah". Oxford Dictionary of Islam. John L. Esposito, Ed. Oxford University Press. 2003. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
  6. "(unless you indeed fear a danger from them) meaning, except those believers who in some areas or times fear for their safety from the disbelievers. In this case, such believers are allowed to show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly. For instance, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Ad-Darda' said, "We smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse them. Al-Bukhari said that Al-Hasan said, "The Tuqyah is allowed until the Day of Resurrection." - Tafsir Ibn Kathir, The Prohibition of Supporting the Disbelievers
  7. "Let not the believers take the disbelievers as patrons, rather than, that is, instead of, the believers — for whoever does that, that is, [whoever] takes them as patrons, does not belong to, the religion of, God in anyway — unless you protect yourselves against them, as a safeguard (tuqātan, ‘as a safeguard’, is the verbal noun from taqiyyatan), that is to say, [unless] you fear something, in which case you may show patronage to them through words, but not in your hearts: this was before the hegemony of Islam and [the dispensation] applies to any individual residing in a land with no say in it." - Tafsir al-Jalalayn (Surah 3 Ayah 28), trans. Feras Hamza, 2012 Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought
  8. "All scholars of the Muslim Ummah agree on the fact that at times when one is forced, one can denounce Islam." - Husain bin Masood al-Baghawi, Tafsir Ma'alim at-Tanzeel, published in Bombay, vol. 2, P. 214.
  9. "It is permissible to swear at Rasulullah when one is under duress and to recite the Kalima of Kufr in the fear of losing property or of getting murdered provided that the heart is at comfort." - Nizam al-Din al-Shashi, Usul al-Shashi, Chapter "Al Dheema", p. 114.
  10. Virani, Shafique N., "The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, a Search for Salvation", New York: Oxford University Press, p. 48, ISBN 978-0-19-531173-0, 2009.